• Collin Morikawa wins first golf major of 2020 claiming US PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in California
  • American rookie becomes fourth player to win first major at 23, finishing two shots ahead of Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey
  • Englishman Casey records best major tournament result, as Brooks Koepka relinquishes Wanamaker Trophy
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – After Collin Morikawa won his first major on debut, what did we learn from the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park?

 

Marvellous Morikawa

On a Sunday that saw no less than ten players in contention to win the first golfing major of 2020, it was in the end Collin Morikawa who kept his composure to win the PGA Championship in just his second major tournament.

As the 23-year-old claimed the Wanamaker Trophy in the shadow of San Francisco, he became only the fourth player after Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to win their first major at that age.

Not only that, but he becomes the first player since Keegan Bradley in 2011 to win the PGA Championship on debut.

Making a decisive leap from a bunched pack on Sunday’s back nine, the American rookie’s tee shot at the short par-4 16th scuttled onto the green leaving Morikawa a ten-foot eagle putt, which he duly converted.

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Whilst it may be true that one major does not necessarily guarantee a potential superstar in the making, Morikawa seemingly has the stars aligning.

Having made 22 consecutive cuts to begin his PGA Tour career last year, the collegiate player from the University of California’s record has only been surpassed by Woods, who have also both been World Amateur number one.

Perhaps the biggest indicator however, is the cool exterior Morikawa exudes. Mentality is a tool the greatest players have kept in a abundance in their time at the top.

In the last 20 majors there have been 13 separate winners. That would suggest the latest winner of the PGA could indeed be a flash in the pan. It remains to be seen if this is his 15 minutes of fame, but Morikawa could be the next big thing.

 

Koepka relinquishes Wanamaker Trophy

With Morikawa becoming the 50th player to claim the Wanamaker Trophy, Brooks Koepka was forced to relinquish the prize he had so dominantly held since 2018.

A strong contender to equal Peter Thompson‘s open era record of winning the same title in three consecutive years in the 1966 Open, the 30-year-old Floridian was in the box seat after an opening round 66, but still in contention on Sunday – four strokes off the top of the pile – could only shoot a 74, to finish ten shots back.

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Failing to get to grips with Harding Park’s rather changeable conditions, Koepka’s approach play was uncharacteristically off-cue for the majority of the competition.

Having been forced to hand over the PGA title, he will now switch his attention to New York state next month for the US Open.

In a tournament with his name on the trophy on two occasions also, Koepka will get a second chance in quick successive for a trio of wins in just over a months’ time.

 

Casey may yet break major duck

As one man became the latest name to enter the major annuls, Paul Casey – 20 years the winner’s senior – again came perilously close to breaking his own major duck in California.

Though now in the twilight of his career, the 43-year-old from Cheltenham produced weekend scores of and 68 and 66, finishing tied for second place with final round leader Dustin Johnson, hitting 269.

Producing his best result in a major during his 20-year career, the Englishman is arguably in the form of his life ten years on from finishing third in the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews.

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At times on Sunday, Casey was threatening the top of the leaderboard and though falling short once more, may yet have another weekend show in his locker before hanging up his spikes.

Winning the Valspar Championship in Florida for the last two years, Casey also claimed his first European Tour win in the European Open last September and has truly found his game again.

With a shortened major season in the wake of COVID-19, his chances are continue to dwindle as majors slide by, but here, Casey has done enough to suggest he can challenge yet. Winged Foot may suit next month.

 

Cameron future Champ?

On a week of emerging names in the game, Cameron Champ also threw his hat into the ring as a future champion-in-waiting after a showing of consistency from tee to green.

As one of two players to test positive for coronavirus in June – along with Nick Watney – Champ was in the shake-up for large parts on Sunday afternoon, eventually coming home in joint-tenth spot.

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In just his third major competition, the 25-year-old American improved 44 places on last year’s outing at Bethpage and having now reached a career high ranking of 68 in the world, the Sacramento native will be looking to use this past week as a springboard.

Champ’s long game – on the face of it- is amongst the best in the world. With two PGA Tour wins under his belt, Champ looked at home in California this past week and with the perfect surname to juggle expectations with, will be one to watch next month.

 

Big names flounder again

Harding Park presented itself as something of a clean slate for many in the game after an extended hiatus, but as a new generation of players shone through, the usual suspects fell by the wayside once more.

Tipped again to end a six-year wait for a major title, Rory McIlroy impressed in glimpses but after shooting an underwhelming 70 on opening day never found his groove and after another round in the seventies on moving day, finished 11 shots off Morikawa.

Woods meanwhile, concluded his week on home turf -1, despite notching a four-under par final 18 holes.

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A former four-time PGA Champion, Woods similarly threatened to spark, but after a missing a hatful of birdie opportunities was left to battle in out for lower classification.

World number one Justin Thomas also finished tied for 37th, but whose score of 68 on Saturday went largely unheralded – as did Thomas’ efforts in San Francisco as a whole.

If 2015 winner Jason Day bucked the trend in falling just three shots shy, Spaniard Jon Rahm had too much work to do to claw back the leaders after an uncertain opening 36 holes, whilst Jordan Spieth – looking to complete a career Grand Slam – was left with more major headaches to add to his recent catalogue of frustration.

 

The 2020 US Open takes place at Winged Foot in New York, between September 17-20.

 


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